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Bionic Man is The Future of Humans, Not Robots

A $1 million dollar bionic something or other is now on display at the London Science Museum. It's not really a man, and it's not really a robot. It's not really a cyborg, either, although that might be the closest accurate descriptor. What it is, is a showcase of all of the artificial systems we can install in humans to try and fix things that aren't working, along with a look towards the future of augmented biology, all stuffed into a human form.

Rex, as this, er, project, is called, was put together out of $1 million work of artificial body parts by Shadow Robot Company to be featured as part of a documentary on BBC's Channel 4 entitled "How to Build a Bionic Man." Here's a preview:

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RobotsLab Wants to Put a Box of Robots in Every Classroom

This is the RobotsLab Box. It's a giant box, and it's full of robots. As if that wasn't enough, it's also full of a tablet which is full of a complete STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) curriculum that uses the robots as tools to show things like math and physics in action. The Box is designed to make it easy and affordable for teachers to drop a bunch of awesome robots right into the classroom, and even though I'm not a teacher or a student, I want one.

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Teeny Tiny Microcopter Deploys to Afghanistan With British Troops

It's hard to tell how tiny this helicopter is from the above pic. But it's damn tiny. It's only four inches long (about 10 centimeters), and weighs just 16 grams, but will happily carry a pan-and-tilt camera that streams video back to a base station. It's called the Black Hornet, and it's . . . adorable.

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Video Friday: RoboCup Qualifiers, a Hulking Heavy-Lift Quadrotor, and SPHERES at Google

RoboCup isn't happening until July, but that's cool, because vids are already showing up on YouTube, and 2013 looks like it'll be a fantastic year. It's also going to be a fantastic year for quadrotors, a fantastic year for space robots... Heck, robots are just coming up fantastic. But what else is new, right? Watch some fantastic vids of robots doing fantastic stuff, 'cause it's Video Friday.

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Good News: Humans Have Trouble Killing Robots

People are always so worried about robots gaining sentience and killing all humans, but what about humans, who already are sentient (mostly), mercilessly killing robots every time we turn them off? We're setting a bad example, and robots tend to have very long memories reliable hard drives. As it turns out, though, when you put people in the position of seeing robots as having their own intelligence, it becomes very difficult for most of us to flip the switch. Especially if the robot is begging us not to.

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NASA Now Has Robot Gas Station for Space, Robot Miner for the Moon

If Opportunity and Curiosity aren't impressive enough robots for you, you should probably have your head examined, but until you can find the time for that, here are some other fairly awesome robots from NASA that have been in the news this week: one of them pumps gas, and the other one digs dirt. Yeah, maybe they don't sound awesome, but just trust us on this, okay?

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Opportunity Rover Begins Tenth (!) Year On Mars

Listen, NASA. We love you, but you're setting an impossible precedent here. Opportunity, one of a pair of rovers sent to Mars in 2003, landed at Meridiani Planum nine years ago last week. Nine years ago. The warranty on this robot? A mere 90 days. You do the math on how amazing that is.

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MeCam Is a $50 Camera-Equipped Autonomous Nano Quadrotor, Supposedly

At first glance, MeCam looks like it belongs in a research lab. It's a palm-sized quadrotor packing enough sensors to make it capable of autonomous flight, as well as a camera that can stream video to your smartphone. It can follow you around all by itself, shooting video of your life (or anything else you tell it to), and supposedly, it'll be available as soon as 2014 for as little as $50.

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Video Friday: Bosch and Cars, ROVs and Whales, and Kuka Arms and Chainsaws

Sometimes, I feel like if someone where to cut a hole in my head, they'd just see a couple servos and linkages and not much else, like the robot in this picture. Because that's what writing about robots this much will do to you, man. Having said that, I'd like to encourage all of you to not to try to cut holes in my head, and instead to just amuse yourselves with all of the videos we have for you this Friday.

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IEEE Spectrum’s award-winning robotics blog, featuring news, articles, and videos on robots, humanoids, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and more.
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Erico Guizzo
New York City
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Evan Ackerman
Washington, D.C.

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